Smart city Charter

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© Fraunhofer IAO

Project "Key Features for Smart City Charter Germany"


The project "Smart Cities - Development of an Urban Governance Framework" researches the effects of digitization on urban development and highlights the opportunities, risks and recommendations for German cities of the future. The study is carried out in cooperation with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and commissioned by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR).

The focus of the project lies on four expert papers on “citizen preferences and knowledge”, “city economics”, “actors, interests and asymmetries of power” as well as “digital divide”. These expertise reports build upon a Germany-wide “Delphi-survey” and expert-interviews from all relevant sectors. On this basis, recommendations for action and guidelines for digital transformation in municipalities will be derived and “Key features for Smart City Charter Germany” will be established. The project results will be worked out in cooperation with an interdisciplinary working group including science, business and municipal representatives.


Why is a Smart City Charter needed?


Digitization is transforming private and public life in cities and communities. This cannot be stopped or ignored. Instead, they can see digitization as a opportunity for the future development. Several German cities and municipalities have already recognized the importance of digitization.          

However, the great uncertainty in local politics and administration has to be acknowledged in the development and implementation of future-proof digital strategies. Success in terms of strategic implementation in urban processes has been limited due partly to the lack of strategical guidelines for Smart City development.


Development process of the smart city charter.

What is the objective of the project?


The goal of the project is to initiate a expert-level discussion on a "Smart City Charter for Germany" based on expert input and on the resulting key features, and to propose guidelines for the development of urban governance framework for future cities.

Nevertheless, expert inputs is not intened to take a dogmatic role in the process. Rather the aim is to combine expert knowledge across different disciplines and to provide technical foundation and decision-making tools for urban governance in the age of digitization.

The Smart City Charter should identify desirable Smart City components from the perspective of urban development policy as well as related opportunities and risks, and outline strategic paths for the digitization of German cities and municipalities. The time horizon is set to year 2040. The results will be fed into the "Smart Cities" dialogue platform of the BMUB and the working group "Smart Cities and Sustainable Development" of the Inter-ministerial Working Group "Sustainable Urban Development in the National and International Level" (IMA City) of the German Federal Government. The aim is to present guidelines for the sustainable digital transformation of German cities in summer 2017.


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